November 2018


Due out on November 15 in time to tuck in all those Christmas stockings, from college students to seniors and the old college friend who wants to live an alternative lifestyle.

Gourmet on a Hot Plate

“Love cooking? Love the minimalist lifestyle? Your tiny kitchen doesn’t need to limit your gourmet dreams. Judy Alter’s Gourmet On a Hot Plate will inspire you with big ideas to satisfy everyone around the table.” —Susan Wittig Albert, author of the China Bayles Mysteries and the Darling Dahlias books


I often joke that in my next life I want to be a chef. In this one, without formal culinary training, I have cooked for family and friends at everything from casual dinners al fresco to elaborate meals for twenty.

Today as most of you know, I find myself cooking in a four-by-six kitchen where zoning laws forbid built-ins but allow anything that plugs in. So I cook with a magnetic hot plate, a toaster oven, a large refrigerator/freezer, and a coffeepot. These limitations have given me a new perspective, a new approach to food that lets me get in touch with the food itself. By choice and because counter space is severely limited, I do not have an Instant Pot, an air-fryer, a microwave. My menu choices are dictated by my cooking facilities—and I love it. So here are my tips, my suggestions, and some recipes.

You won’t find a new idea about the holiday turkey here nor suggestions for feeding that houseful of relatives, but you will find innovative and new ideas for everything from appetizers to light suppers. Most recipes feed two to four:

Caesar Dip

Love Caesar salad? This is for you.

  • 1 cup. mayonnaise
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup fresh grated Parmesan (not the stuff in a green can)
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 1 anchovy filet, mashed, or 1 tsp. anchovy paste (you can keep a tube of paste in the fridge and use small amounts without wasting an entire can). Do not omit anchovy—it makes the dip, and you won’t get a fishy taste.

And a tiny kitchen tip:

Tomato-based sauces

      My mom taught me to always add a pinch of sugar to tomato-based sauces. Her advice was it “rounds the sauce off.” Never sure what that meant, but it does improve the flavor. Also consider adding a couple of anchovy filets. Those folks who won’t eat anchovies won’t know they’re there, and it gives the sauce an earthy, full flavor (oops! Have I said that before?)

A new web page will offer on ongoing conversation about cooking in a tiny kitchen. I have already chosen recipes not in the cookbook to share on the website, and I encourage you to send your questions, news of your culinary triumphs—and disasters if you must (we all have them)—along with recipes and suggestions. The Gourmet on a Hot Plate website.



Other News

Contract for Chaos is getting nice comments from friends and reviews. (Available as an ebook on Amazon and other platforms.) Here’s a sample:

“Another great book with societal issues taking center stage. The author handles the issues from various point of views and highlights how it affects even the neighbor next door… The mystery was nicely done and tightly woven, never giving away too much too soon in the story. I had my suspect and I enjoyed watching it play out.” —Dru Ann Love



This, that, and the other


I’m just back from a long weekend in Austin, Texas visiting with my daughters. Highlight was seeing an exhibit at the Witliff Collection/Southwest Writers Collection housed at Texas State University. The exhibit is titled, “Literary Frontiers: Historical Fiction and the Creative Imagination.” And my early novel, Mattie, is featured along with works by Larry McMurtry, Steve Harrigan, Robert Flynn, Elizabeth Crook, Jan Reid, Bud Shrake and others too numerous to mention. I was absolutely thrilled to be in such company—most of whom I either know or had met a time or two. I just sat for a long time in that gorgeous room—exposed wood, Saltillo tiles on the floor–soaking up the atmosphere, the sense of writers’ spirits. Of course, we took a lot of pictures, and the girls had fun seeing authors they’d met over the years.

I’m working on a new project tentatively titled The Second Battle of the Alamo. No, it’s not Texians vs. Mexicanos. This is the story of two early twentieth-century women who saved the iconic mission buildings from demolition and then had their own battle, each with a differing vision of the historic site’s future. It’s the story of how and why we have a major tourist attraction in San Antonio. If you haven’t seen it, you should. In February 2020, you can read what I find a compelling story, full of history and odd bits of information. I’m having fun, and I hope you’ll like the book.

The holiday season is almost upon us. From my house to yours, all the season’s blessings. May you and yours be healthy and happy, make merry and stay safe, and sail into a new year full of golden opportunities. And a humble thank-you for keeping up with me.


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